Tom Misch On Avoiding Jazz Snobbery and Why New School Hip-Hop Is 'Missing The Musicality'

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Since joining SoundCloud in 2011, London-based musician Tom Misch has amassed nearly 200,000 followers by working the intersection of hip-hop and jazz. The 22-year-old, who studied music technology at Langley College for Boys and later jazz guitar at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, will release his funk-infused debut, Geography, on April 6. On the album, which features De La Soul and GoldLink, Misch sprinkles in disco and mines inspiration from J Dilla beats for a not-exactly-smooth-jazz offering elevated by his pillowy tenor. Before embarking on a sold-out U.S. tour and playing Coachella, Misch shares how he hopscotches across genres -- and offers a hot take on hip-hop of the moment.

1. He’s Not Trying To Be A Purist
"Jazzheads are really snobby, like jazz has to be played this way or you have to play like Miles Davis for it to be jazz. But jazz has always evolved and gone through stages; I feel like hip-hop in jazz is what’s hot, in terms of how it’s evolving, and people need to be more open to that. [The two are] such a good mix."

2. But He’s Emphasizing 'Musicality'
"This new wave of hip-hop is missing the musicality and soul -- the beats are really basic. Lyrically, they don’t really talk about much, it’s just promoting a certain lifestyle. I understand the appeal, because people can pretend that they’re living this life with loads of bling. I just don’t dig it that much."

3. He Finds Inspiration In The Club
"I came from the SoundCloud world, where you have the old-school hip-hop and you have people like Kaytranada and Pomo, who make super-funky, disco-inspired house music, and I got into that recently. It stems from going out, going to see DJs play. I love going clubbing and love dancing. I want to make people dance with my music as well. Because I cross different genres but still maintain my sound, it opens up so many doors -- I’m not defined by one genre, and that’s what I tried to [prove] with this album."

This article originally appeared in the March 31 issue of Billboard.


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